|The Bonedd y Saint
the Hystoria o Uuched Beuno
The Bonedd y
The Bonedd y Saint
(Descent of the Saints) was compiled of
material closely related tot that of the royal
genealogies, at some period during the 12th
century, though the Old Welsh form of some names proves
that the material is much older in origin. It may have
been composed in Ceredigion according to the important
position of St David, which also puts the compilation
after 1140. At this time St David was virtually acclaimed
as the Welsh patron saint by the acknowledgement of the
bishop of St David's as metropolitan of Wales by the
princes of Gwynedd Owain and Cadwaladr.
Most of the 6th
and 7th century early Christians in Wales are
alledged to have been of royal descent (see Saints on the move). The numerous versions of these
saints genealogies indicate the wide circulation given to
them, and they are found incorporated in the Lives of
the Saints, which were redacted in the 12th
and 13th centuries. The form of the
genealogies bears witness to the interrelation of secular
and clerical learning. The Bonedd y Saint and
other Lives seem to be copies of a variety of
compositions of earlier date, and they may have been
'written over' to differ more or less from any originals.
As they reflect Welsh social and political conditions,
they betray no apparent catastrophe due to a supposed
'push into the hills' by their eastern neighbours the
Saxons, but in fact they show a smooth emergence from the
Roman period, passing under the name of Britons into the
sub-Roman period. On the other hand they have strong and
intimate ties with Ireland.
The Bonedd y Saint deals
mostly with saints from northern and central Wales, not
the familiar territory of Vortigern. All the more strange
that it reflects the only source for the connection
between Gwent and Vortigern's family (brief 44 & 45).
Some versions of the Bonedd y Saint, as shown
here, run item 45 together with item 44, which concerns
Ceidio ab Ynyr Gwent, making Modrun his mother:
Keidyau m. Enyr Guent.
45. Madrun uerch
Wertheuyr urenhin Enys Brideyn ac Anhun llauuorwyn idi.
(Keidaw m. Ynyr Gwent a Madrun merch Wertheuyr Uendigeit
y uam (in text
B, followed by G).
44 + 45.
Keidaw m. Ynyr Gwent, a Madrun merch
Wertheuyr uendigeit y uam
B. Kneiddian ap Ynyr gwent, a Madrun verch Wrtheyrn,
vrenin Ynys Brydain, a vv yn llavorwyn iddi.
E. Kyneiddian ap Ynyr Gwent, a Thegiwc i chwaer; i mam
hwyntev oedd Vadryn verch Gorthevyr vrenhin.
G. Keidiaw m. Ynyr Gwen[t]. Madrvn verch Wrthevyr, brenin
yr ynys honn, i vam.
This is most probably an
error, but it may have led to the local legend that it
was Modrun who died with her grandfather Vortigern in the
burning of his Caer Guorthigirn, which in this version
was situated in Yr Eifl. This 'Castel Gwrtheyrn' can only be the Iron
Age hillfort of Tre'r Ceiri. However, she escaped,
carrying her baby Ceidio with her, and fled to Carn
Fadrun in southern Lleyn. Popular tradition has this son
found a church 2 miles to the north, at Ceidio. A late
version of the Bonedd y Saint makes Modrun the
mother os another saint, St Cedwyn, which is most likely
a further corruption of 'Ceidio'.
passages above (item 44, 45 and 44+45) contain
some duplications. There were two persons called
Ynyr Gwent, the second one born c. 540. Tegiwg
was a daughter of that second Ynyr (see More Saints), while the form
'Kneiddian' is a false fusion of 'Keidaw' and
'Iddon'. The Bonedd also has a variant version of
the genealogy of Powys as reflected in the
Harleian MS and the Pillar of Elise
Garmavn m. Ridicus ac en oes Gortheyrn Gortheneu
e doeth er enys [honn ac o ffreinc pan hanoed].
62. Dona e Mon
m. Selyf m. Kenan Garwyn m. Brochuael Esgithrauc
m Kyngen m. Cadell Dyrnlluc m. Brydw m. Ruduedel
Urych m. Eudeyrn m. Gortheyrn Gortheneu.
Though the part
between brackets is disputed, it is constructed
from the MS B-G (below). F & G close with
Cadell, B omits the m. after Urych
and reads Eurdeyrn. E has Evrdeyrn
and H has Aurdeyrn. These may all be a
guess, based upon a scribal error.
the foremost copies of the tract known as the Bonedd
(Peniarth MS 16), fos. 53v-54v ('Bonhed
y Seint'), early 13th century, incomplete and
breaks off after urenhin in brief 45.
(Peniarth MS 45), pp. 286-291 ('Bonhed
Seint Kymry'), late 13th century, complete but
(Peniarth MS 12), fo. 25r-v ('Boned y
Seint'), early 14th century, much abbreviated.
These pages really belong to the Peniarth MS
4 ('The White Book of Rhydderch', c. 1320).
(Hafod MS 2), fos. 209v-212r ('Bonheyd
Seynt'), second half of the 14th century,
sometimes called 'Llannerch MS'.
(Hafod MS 16), pp. 110-112 (no title),
c. 1400, incomplete. Also: Peniarth MS 50
('Y Cwtta Cyfarwydd', 1415-1456), and a copy in Cardiff
MS 25 (Hb), pp. 108-110.
(Llanstephan MS 28), pp. 69-75, c.1475,
taken from the lost Hengwrt MS 33.
(Peniarth MS 27), part 2, pp. 67-70, c.
(Peniarth MS 127), pp. 43-49, c. 1510.
(Peniarth MS 182), pp. 63-74, c. 1514.
(Peniarth MS 137), 199-204, c. 1541.
(Peniarth MS 177), pp. 262-267, 269.
Also Peniarth MS 178, part 1, pp. 19-20
and Peniarth MS 132, pp. 119-121, c.
continues with J, K, Ga, La, TW, M, Fa, Hb, and Y, and
consist of no less than eleven more MSS, written or
copied between 1565 and 1700.
Not to be confused with the Bonedd y Saint is
the late medieval Achau'r Saint ('Pedigrees of
the Saints'), which is a mostly corrupt copy of the
o Uuched Beuno
Welsh 'Life of St Beuno' (Jesus College MS
119 or 'Llyvyr Agkyr Llandewivevi', fos.
104r-110r) was written in 1346 and might be an
abbreviated translation, paraphrase or both of a
lost Latin Life of the saint. It might be
cosidered that the Life of St David occurs as a
similar Welsh translation in tne same Elucidarium
in which the Hystoria o Uuched Beuno was
published, but of course that in this case the
Latin original is known.
The form of
Cateyrn or Catigern, son of Vortigern is also
represented in the
Beuno, ch. 24:
ach Beuno. Beuno vab Bugi, vab Gwynlliw, vab
Tegit, vab Kadell Drynlluc, vab Categyrnn, vab
Gortheyrnn, vab Gorthegyrnn, vab Rittegyrn, vab
Deheuwynt, vab Eudegan, vab Eudegern, vab Elud,
vab Eudos, vab Eudoleu, vab Auallach, vab
Amalech, vab Belim, vab Anna. Mam yr Anna honno
oed gefnitherw y Veir Wyry, Mam Christ.
only do we see a clear duplication of two forms
of Vortigern, but there is a variant of the pedigree of Powys (again), in which Cadell
is made the son of Catigern. The Bonedd y
Saint makes Cadell the son of Britu, who is
here the great-grandson of Vortigern! Clearly
there were more variants about than the ones in
the Historia Brittonum and the Pillar
of Elise. The latter must be seen as
authoritative though because of its age. The Bonedd
y Saint might supply us here with a
combination of several such variants. Finally, we
see that Vortigern is backed up to the pedigree
usually connected with Coel Hen.
- Bartrum, P.C.: Early Welsh Genealogical
Tracts, (Cardiff 1966).*
- Bromwich, R.: The Character of the
Early Welsh Tradition, in: Chadwick, Studies
in Early British History, pp. 83-136.*
- Chadwick, H.M.: Vortigern, in: Chadwick,
Studies in Early British History, pp. 21-33.*
- Chadwick, H.M.: The Foundation of the
Early British Kingdoms, in: Chadwick, Studies
in Early British History, pp. 47-56.*
- Chadwick, N.K. et
in Early British History, (Cambridge 1959).*
- Chadwick, N.K.: A Note on the Name
Vortigern, in: Chadwick, Studies in Early
British History, pp. 34-46.*
- Vitae Sanctorum
Britanniae et Genealogiae, ed. A.W. Wade-Evans,